Nine years of brutal conflict have torn Syria apart. Hundreds of thousands of families who once had a home, a stable income and security, have lost everything they held dear.
For Umm Ahmad, this story rings all too true.
A grandmother of nine children, Umm Ahmad is 73 years old. Before war broke out, she was living happily among her family in Syria.
Now she’s living in a refugee camp in neighbouring Lebanon.
She fondly remembers the happy times in her village, before everything changed…
Syria: From a life of normality to crisis
Umm Ahmad used to live outside of Idlib, in the north-west of Syria. Here, she’d grown up, went to school, and enjoyed family gatherings later in life.
Life was safe and happy and the family was able to support itself:
We were happy in our village… We didn’t need anything.
We were working as farmers. We were able to earn money and food for ourselves. Not only were we self-sufficient, we used to financially support other poor families.
A few months into the crisis however, and conflict reached the areas surrounding her village.
One night there was an explosion. Little did she know, but the sound that ruptured through the community marked the beginning of a new chapter in Umm Ahmad’s life.
As the area was hit with rockets, barrel bombs and airstrikes, Umm Ahmad and her family fled in the dark. They ran across a field and hid in a cave until the situation seemed to calm.
However, tragedy was to follow:
When my son went to check the house and bring whatever he could, including water for the children – who were terrified – the rockets suddenly started to hit the village again.
When my son was late [returning to us], we found out that he, the father of my five grandchildren, had been killed in that airstrike…
In one dark moment, Umm Ahmad’s grandchildren lost their father. Now, she was left to bring up the children herself.
Lebanon: A grandmother’s search for safety
Without food, drink or shelter, Umm Ahmad took her grandchildren and fled Syria. The family travelled to a nearby refugee camp in Lebanon.
With many other Syrians having fled for their lives, they weren’t alone. In fact, almost one million people are now living in Lebanon as refugees.
SubhanAllah, despite the great challenges, at the age of 73, Umm Ahmad showed true resilience in the face of catastrophe. Alhamdulillah, she is a saviour for her five grandchildren.
Strength, patience and determination were her blessings, as their life has not been easy since being forced to flee their home.
In the first camp where the family arrived, there were so many people that humanitarian organisations were not able to meet their needs. They waited three days for a tent, before trying another camp – where they still did not receive shelter.
Finally, they arrived at a third camp where Umm Ahmad and her grandchildren were finally given a tent within two days. This was also the camp where she met Islamic Relief staff.
Sadly, this is not an unusual story: many refugees struggle to find shelter.
With the current situation in Idlib, after a long drawn-out conflict, many people in Syria are now being displaced for the seventh or eighth time.
Islamic Relief: Helping Syrian families in need
At the new camp, Umm Ahmad was put in touch with Islamic Relief and we were delighted to help her and her family.
Islamic Relief came and wrote down our urgent needs. The following day they brought a number of sheets, blankets and tent sealants as well as food parcels for us and other large numbers of new arrivals of displaced people.
Thanks to God, then to you for the essential items that you provide for us.
We provided carpets, tents, blankets and food parcels, as well as toilet units and lavatories. Alhamdulillah, we were also able to put a smile on the faces of Umm Ahmad’s grandchildren when we provided high-quality winter clothes – chosen by the children themselves:
This was the first help of its kind which made my son’s children forget their sadness and made them extremely happy.
You’ve reminded me of their father’s role. He used to bring new clothes for them every year.
I consider Islamic Relief to be our family as it plays the role of father for my grandchildren. You reminded us of the happy memories of the past. This alleviated our pains and sadness tremendously.
Despite all the difficulties Umm Ahmad and her family have had to endure, we’re delighted to have been able to provide such critical care and relief.
Of course, this has only been possible thanks to your generous support.
Years of crisis in Syria: Ongoing life-saving support
Alhamdulillah, thanks to your donations, we’ve been able to provide £320 million worth of aid to help Syrians in need. Thanks to you, we’ve been supporting many more families like Umm Ahmad’s in Syria and neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey throughout the ongoing conflict.
In 2019 alone, we supported 2.3 million people affected by the Syrian conflict.
Thank you for your continued support. You’re making a critical difference to the life of Umm Ahmad, her grandchildren and countless other people in need.
You are life-savers.
Support people like Umm Ahmad in need this Ramadan. Help provide shelter, food and health care for families in crisis.
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